Skip to content

Katie Yates, Project and Communications Officer, and Robyn Vernon-Harcourt, Project Manager, explain how partnerships formed through the Inclusive Economy Partnership (IEP) have enabled the initiative to expand outside of London, creating a powerful movement for change across the UK.

This is Me campaign - Inclusive Economy Partnership

Can you tell us a bit about your Inclusive Economy Partnership project. What are you doing and what do you want to change?

This is Me is an award-winning mental health initiative that seeks to end the stigma around mental health in the workplace. Developed by Barclays and adopted by The Lord Mayor's Appeal in London in 2016, This is Me supports organisations to change attitudes around mental health in their workplace and build inclusive workplace cultures by encouraging employees to share their experience of mental health challenges.

Our evidence proves that storytelling is one of the most powerful tools for behaviour change, with organisations that are sharing stories making faster progress compared to those that are not.

The campaign encourages organisations to show a visible sign of commitment for supporting mental health, through its Green Ribbon campaign, and provides organisations with free resources to up-skill their employees through its online learning tool, Wellbeing in the City, developed in partnership with the Samaritans.

This is Me started as an initiative in the City of London. Our partnerships with the IEP have enabled us to expand the initiative to regions outside of London, creating a powerful movement for change across the UK to end the stigma around mental health in the workplace and improve employee wellbeing for good.

Who are you looking to reach specifically, and why?

This is Me aims to reach businesses and organisations to support them to create mentally healthy workplaces.

Although workplaces are not the sole cause of mental ill-health, and often are not the reason that somebody becomes ill, we know that they have a responsibility to support their staff with parity to physical illness.

This is Me supports organisations so that they in turn can support their employees experiencing mental ill health or mental health challenges and create a culture where it is ok not to be ok. Knowing that mental health is not a London-centric issue and given the impact This is Me has had within organisations in London, The Lord Mayor’s Appeal saw the potential the initiative could have within organisations and businesses across the UK to make a genuine difference in the mental health landscape.

Our partnership with the IEP enabled us to develop partnerships and capitalise on growing interest across the UK to launch This is Me in the North West and This is Me in Scotland. Since the end of the project, This is Me has also launched in the West Midlands, with the potential to also launch in West Yorkshire and the West.

Although workplaces are not the sole cause of mental ill-health, and often are not the reason that somebody becomes ill, we know that they have a responsibility to support their staff with parity to physical illness.

What have you found to be the biggest challenge facing people with mental health problems in the workplace?

The biggest challenge that we perceive people with mental ill health face in the workplace is the feeling that their problem will not be met with parity to a physical illness due to the stigma that surrounds mental health. We know that workplaces are working hard to ensure their employees feel safe enough to share, but we also know that presenteeism is an enormous and costly problem for employers. That is why This is Me exists – to normalise those conversations and provide tools so employees and managers have the skills they need to look after their own wellbeing and support one another.

Tell us a bit about one of the partnerships you formed during the IEP. Who are you working with and what does this relationship look like?

Our partnership with Landsec has been instrumental to the growth of This is Me.

Landsec shares the vision of the campaign, where employers can support employees to have good mental health. Landsec is a national business with a strong network of business and local authority contacts. Its support has helped to spread the campaign into new businesses and sectors and reach employees that need support from their employers. They are opening doors for us around the country and making their resources available to us.

As a result of our partnership they have introduced This is Me into their own business and we hope it will eventually become more widely taken up by the property and construction sector. Men make up most of Landsec’s workforce, so it also helps us target a large group of employees who are often very reluctant to talk about their mental health.

Landsec is also using its national contacts and influence to introduce the This is Me campaign to businesses in other parts of the UK, such as Leeds and Oxford, and because they know businesspeople around the country they talk about the campaign and connect them with the campaign team. On a very practical level they have offered to help us with small but important things like space to host meetings.

Houses of Parliament - green for mental health awareness

Houses of Parliament lit up in support of the Green Ribbon campaign

What impact has the IEP made on your project and goals?

The IEP is giving the This is Me campaign the momentum to grow around the UK.

It’s introducing new national businesses in different sectors and locations to the campaign. We hope some will eventually be prepared to share the benefits with more of their own business contacts.

The IEP has given us the resource to do this and the support to the campaign team to help make this happen.

Introductions to potential partners have been invaluable. Not all have resulted in a formal partnership, but some, including Landsec, Federation of Small Businesses, Anglian Water, Jaguar Landrover and the Civil Service, have the potential to make a real impact and to reach millions of employees and hundreds of businesses (including in new sectors and regions) with our mental health campaign.

The Civil Service alone, which is now thoroughly involved in the This is Me campaign, has the potential to reach more than 300,000 employees. They will be sharing their own This is Me video for Mental Health Awareness Week.

Nesta also used their contacts to fast track some invaluable requests for help. As an example, they contacted the Mental Health Minister and First Minister for Scotland to support the launch of This is Me in Scotland. Although the Minister was unable to attend the launch event, her support is clear in the This is Me introductory text in Scotland’s ‘How To’ guide which has raised the profile of This is Me Scotland significantly.

Our partnership with the IEP enabled us to resource the expansion and scale of This is Me across the UK to reach more workplaces and employees, creating a powerful community for change in how we think and act around mental health in the workplace.

The Inclusive Economy Partnership is giving the This is Me campaign the momentum to grow around the UK.

What have you learned about how to build a successful partnership?

Partnerships with businesses have been key to the success and scale of This is Me both within London and across the UK. Having a clear understanding of the objectives of the partnerships from all parties has been instrumental in their success and a shared commitment to supporting mental health in the workplace.

Where do you plan to take This is Me from here?

2018 saw the launch of This is Me North West and This is Me Scotland with other regions, including This is Me West Midlands, launching in 2019.

Our ambition in 2019 is to continue this growth nationwide, to reach some of those harder to reach sectors as well as supporting more SMEs across the UK. We have also received interest from international partners to launch This is Me in different countries and are currently exploring the potential to do so. We will continue to support our organisations in creating mentally healthy workplaces for all.

Find out more about This is Me.

The Inclusive Economy Partnership (IEP) is a pioneering initiative changing the way that government, business and civil society work together to address some of society's toughest challenges. Between August 2017 and September 2018, Nesta worked with the Cabinet Office and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to run the Inclusive Economy Partnership Accelerator, supporting 18 IEP grant winners across three challenge areas (financial inclusion, mental health in the workplace, and the transition to work for young people) to scale their solutions through meaningful partnership with business, civil society and government.